How to Write Objectives for a Grant Proposal

Learning how to write objectives for grant application proposals is essential to your grant writing success.

This is often overlooked.

Many people think an objective can just be a wish. Such as, “We hope to accomplish this program.”

Let’s just start with Captain Obvious. Would you be willing to give someone money for a project if they only hoped to accomplish it?

Or would you be willing to shell out dough for a project that had a goal of ‘Ending Poverty for All” but there was no plan on how to accomplish that goal?

Sometimes it helps to flip the script and pretend you are the funding source, rather than the applicant.

But how do you create a plan (objectives) for a grant proposal? What is the secret formula?


Let’s start by writing a clear goal. We can refer to an example from the Amazon bestselling book, The Beginner’s Guide to Grant Writing:  Youth Soccer Rocks nonprofit (yes, fictitious) in the city of Rocking Socks City (also fictitious) who are creating a project that will serve underserved youth in their city.

Their problem statement may be:

“75% of youth in the city of Rocking Socks suffer from chronic health issues compared to the national average of 12%. These staggering health issues correlate with high suicide rates, depression rates, and poor graduation rates.

The goal would basically be flipping this problem statement around:

Youth Soccer Rocks will provide a free soccer program for at-risk youth and provide a healthy pathway.

So now that you have the goal, let’s take the next step. How do you achieve the goal?

Well, that is done through…


Think of a goal as an overarching aim, and objectives as the specific framework of what will be accomplished. Typically, you do not want to have any more than three objectives within a project.

You will have many activities, but the number of overall objectives should be clear and concise.

Objectives need to be S.M.A.R.T.; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

An objective for Youth Soccer Rocks could be 100 disadvantaged youth in Rocking Socks will receive sports scholarships by the end of twelve months. 

SMART Method

Let’s break this down into each part of the acronym S.M.A.R.T., and by the end you will have one entire objective.

  • Specific: Identify the outcomes that will be achieved:
    • Ex. Number of youth, type of youth, what their specific outcome will be.
  • Measurable: Use quantifiable terms to describe how the progress will be measured.
    • Ex. Number of youth (100) and number of scholarships.
  • Achievable: Is the objective achievable within the duration of the project, resources, budget, etcetera?
    • Ex. This would be balanced by the needs; i.e. If there are thousands of youth who are disadvantaged in the city and no other free soccer organizations, then this could be achievable.
  • Relevant: Does the objective relate to the problem statement and goal?
    • Ex. Yes, this is a possible solution to the health conditions.
  • Time-bound: Do you have a date for the objective to be completed by? Tip: Start off with the end in the beginning of the objective, such as; By the end of 12 months…
    • Ex. They will complete this objective by the end of 12 months.

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Related Links:

  • Episode #6: Write Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes for Your Grant Proposal. Click here.
  • Episode #143: 5 Most Popular Grant Writing Questions. Click here.
  • Episode #160: 2 Questions You Should Ask Before Getting a Grant Writing Certificate. Click here.
  • Episode #141: Grant Writing Made Easy: 5 Hacks to Write a Grant Proposal. Click here.
  • Episode #163: 5 Proven Steps to Actually Find the Best-Fit Federal Grants. Click here.

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